Friday, September 9, 2016

A Town of Stone, a Scenic Byway and an Old Mine

We are in Silver City and it is our first day in the Gila Wilderness. We woke up sometime around 7:30am and we got our things together and put them in the car. Then we went back into the hotel for a quick breakfast. Around 8:45am we left the hotel and set out for the day. Our plan was to go to the Visitor Center and then head out to Reserve, Alma, Mogollon and Glenwood for some sightseeing and letterboxing.
At the Visitor Center we talked with the woman working there (who was extremely nice and knowledgeable) about things in the area and we picked up a map and some brochures. When we were getting ready to leave we mentioned we were heading up to the Catwalk and the woman said "No, you aren't!". When we asked why, she told us that they had some bad rains last night and there was too much debris on and around the Catwalk that they closed it for the weekend. This is the second time we made plans to visit the Catwalk and the second time we were deterred. The first time happened years ago and I will forego that long and embarrassing story for now. So with this news we made changes for the day. We decided to start our day at City of Rocks State Park. This is a place we have been wanting to visit but never made the time. Now was the time. There was also a letterbox there which just added to the trip. You can read about our letterboxing adventures at Stones, a Pig, a Byway and a Burro. We arrived at the park and went directly to the Visitor Center and talked with the volunteer there. She gave us a map and some information about the park and also gave us a handout so that we could look for some petroglyphs. You can park at the Visitor Center and walk all around the park or you can drive the loop road and stop at different spots to do some exploring. We chose the latter. We took the loop counterclockwise and immediately encountered one of the more well known rocks - 'Toilet Rock'. I took a few pictures and then we moved along. A short distance ahead we stopped at the Botanical Garden. We took a short walk along a trail that starts here and then returned to the car. We continued our drive along the loop and made some stops along the way to look at the formations and to look for the petroglyphs. We only found two of the petroglyphs, the others we had trouble following the directions. There are picnic tables scattered throughout the rocks and trails that you can walk. The formations are incredible and we enjoyed walking around them. One of the other things we noticed was an abundance of wildflowers. I couldn't believe how many wildflowers we saw at this time of year. We spent about two hours here and thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Now it was time to continue on with our day.

City of Rocks is off of NM 61 on City of Rocks Road. We had come from the west to get to the park and when we left we headed east on NM 61 to the junction with NM 152. We turned left on NM 152 and only drove a short distance before turning right onto NM 35. At this time we were on the Trail of the Mountain Spirits National Scenic Byway. About a quarter of a mile along NM 35 we saw a restaurant and decided to get a late lunch as it was a little after 2:00pm. We ate at La Tienda del Sol. This place is a restaurant, store and gas station. It is located between San Lorenzo and Mimbres and it is pretty much out in the middle of nowhere. We both had burgers. They were delicious and the service was wonderful. Once we had our fill we began our drive on NM 35. We had two goals - plant a letterbox and find a letterbox. The drive is along a narrow, two lane, blacktop and curvy road. The scenery is beautiful and the drive relaxing and we had the good fortune of having no traffic. There are few places where you can pull off and look at the views. There are also side roads that you can explore. We also noticed trail heads up and down the road. When we got to mile marker 16 we encountered a nice Trail of the Mountain Spirits Welcome Sign and I planted my letterbox near this sign.

We continued our drive, turned into a picnic area and ended up at Lake Roberts where we took a short walk along the lake before returning to the car. After our walk we looked for another letterbox before continuing our drive. We finished the drive on NM 35 to NM 15 and on to Silver City.
Tyrone Mine Reclamation
We continued south of Silver City on NM 90 and passed the town of Tyrone. We were headed for a letterbox. We turned onto Tyrone Thompson Road and immediately on the left was an overlook. We stopped here and and read a little about the copper mining in the area and the reclamation process. From the overlook you were looking at an area that had been reclaimed so it was quite an education. After this we went in search of the letterbox and then headed back to Silver City. Since we had a late lunch we weren't really hungry for dinner but we felt we needed to eat something or we would probably wake up in the middle of the night with cravings. We stopped and shared a sandwich, which was just enough to hold us until morning. We then returned to the hotel and took showers. We are now relaxing and we plan on getting a good night's sleep for our adventure tomorrow.

Silver City – City of Rocks State Park – Mimbres – Lake Roberts – Silver City – Burro Mountain Road – Silver City
145 miles | 3 hours 46 minutes

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